When Brenda Kupchick’s son was nine years old, he begged her for a puppy. Eventually, she gave in and purchased a female beagle at a pet shop. “Over the next 12 years, that dog cost us $16,000 in vet bills,” admits Kupchick, now a Connecticut state representative. “Not only did she cost us a lot of money, but a lot of heartache, as well.”
Rep. Kupchick, along with Rep. Auden Grogins, spoke at the ASPCA’s Connecticut Voices for Animals Day in Hartford on February 21, using the forum to renew their support for a state law that would address the inhumane treatment of dogs in the commercial breeding facilities—commonly known as puppy mills—that supply animals to Connecticut pet shops.
ASPCA-sponsored lobby days like Connecticut Voices for Animals Day give animal lovers like you the chance to meet your elected officials and tell them, in person, that you support animal protection and oppose laws that would allow animals to be hurt and exploited. Of the 31 animal advocates in attendance at Connecticut Voices for Animals Day, many were lobbying for their first time. Lisa King felt the trip was “absolutely worth it.”
“I had a nice conversation with an aide to my state senator,” Lisa said. She also left behind a personal note for Senator Cathy Osten. “It’s important for them to realize that people who vote for them have these concerns.”
We have several animal-welfare state lobbying events coming up: registration is currently open for Massachusetts, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and New Jersey, and details will soon be posted for Illinois and New York.
You may have heard a lot of talk about Idaho recently, and it’s no small potatoes. Idaho’s governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter, recently signed into law a controversial anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bill that punishes those who expose abusive conditions on factory farms. Though Governor Otter claims this law will keep agriculture producers “secure in their property,” we, and countless others concerned about the welfare of animals, are extremely concerned about the greater implications of ag-gag.
In passing this bill, Idaho became the seventh state to enact an ag-gag law. By effectively closing out journalists, investigators, and even the general public from animal production facilities, the agribusiness industry can continue to keep consumers in the dark about where their food is coming from.
We have seen countless instances of abuse on industrial farms, including the recent case of a Wisconsin dairy farm that produces cheese for the frozen pizza brand DiGiorno. Undercover footage taken by Mercy For Animals caught workers at this farm viciously kicking, stabbing, beating, and dragging cows, and the footage led to 11 charges of criminal animal cruelty. Without such footage, we may never have known of these horrors, and because of ag-gag laws, we may never learn of countless other, similar instances.
Great news! President Obama’s newly released FY 2015 budget proposal once again includes a request for Congress to block spending by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to inspect U.S. horse slaughter plants. If adopted, this prohibition would effectively ban horse slaughter on U.S. soil through September 2015 because only USDA-inspected meat can be sold for human consumption.
The President’s request reflects the will of the Congress, whose FY 2014 spending bill, passed in January, included the same language. (The inspection-defund language was initially introduced in the House and Senate by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) as an amendment to the FY 2014 Agriculture appropriations bill.) However, the FY 2014 spending bill expires this September, which is why it’s critical to get the measure extended via the FY 2015 budget.
“We are grateful to the White House and USDA for their continued leadership in ensuring that American horses are not slaughtered on our own soil for foreign demand, especially in light of the recent news from Europe about the horrors of discovering horse meat mixed with frozen lasagna and other meat products,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “Wasting tax dollars on the cruelty of horse slaughter makes no sense, and we urge Congress to once again adopt this provision.”
Help us ensure that Capitol Hill hears the message to protect our horses, both here and abroad! The pro-slaughter industry will lobby intensely against this newest effort to prohibit federal dollars from being spent on horse slaughter, and our goal is to stop all American horses from experiencing the horrors of slaughter wherever it occurs, so we must continue to press for passage of the SAFE Act to ban horse slaughter permanently.
Of the 21 active dog tracks in the U.S., more than half (12) are in Florida. Florida law requires dog tracks to report all racing-related deaths, and an analysis of these death notifications from 2013 reveals that on average, a Greyhound died from racing-related injuries every three days in Florida last year.
With assistance from the ASPCA, Greyhound protection group GREY2K USA created a report, “The Final Lap,” that summarizes last year’s devastating deaths at Florida’s tracks. The report was released today at a joint press conference held in Tallahassee, during which ASPCA Vice President of State Affairs Ann Church and several state legislators called for the passage of a bill to protect Greyhounds.
Watch GREY2K USA’s new video on dog racing in Florida:
If you live in Florida, you can help—please visit aspca.org/FLgreyhounds to urge state lawmakers to eliminate the mandate that requires gaming facilities to hold dog races.
Michigan’s wolves, once reduced to less than a handful by the 1970s, are now squarely in the crosshairs of eager hunters and politicians hoping to destroy as many as they can under a thin, and sometimes fictional, justification of threats to livestock and humans. Before we take lethal aim at these relatively defenseless and innocent animals, there’s good cause for a reality-check, because the reality is there’s simply no good reason to hunt these wolves.
Protected since 1973 under the Endangered Species Act, Michigan wolves were delisted at the start of 2012. By the end of that year, Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation declaring them fair game for hunting. Why? Because…
Well that’s a tough question to answer. Yes, there are now over 650 wolves in Michigan. But charges that wolves have ventured onto residential porches or daycare centers— or are killing livestock frequently—are not passing the truth test. In some cases, entire stories about wolf incidents are being retracted.
What is true: Michigan farmers, ranchers and other landowners are already permitted to kill wolves to protect livestock or dogs, even though cases of wolves killing livestock are relatively rare. Ranchers are also compensated for livestock losses from wolves.
What’s more, in other Great Lakes states, wolves are often trapped inhumanely, sometimes with steel-jawed traps in which animals can suffer for days before being killed.
This leaves only one motive: killing wolves merely for sport, thrill, out of hatred, and for trophies, which are what brought wolves to the brink of extinction in the first place.
Some Michigan politicians, hell-bent on opening trophy hunting season, will take any legislative or regulatory means necessary to allow the killing of wolves—even if it means going against the will of their own citizens. Michigan residents have fought to protect wolves through referendums, yet influential pro-hunting groups have found new ways to thwart the public’s voice. And it’s time once again to put up a fight to protect their lives.
In March 2013, over a quarter of a million Michigan citizens signed a petition calling for a referendum to undo the call to arms and protect the wolves, as well as to postpone wolf-hunting season until after the 2014 election.
Unmoved, the Michigan legislature gave the unelected Natural Resources Commission (NRC) the authority to determine which animals can be hunted. Being a regulatory body, the NRC’s decisions are not reversible by public vote. With its new power, the NRC approved the wolf hunt in July.
To preserve these animals’ lives, the Michigan public needs to overturn two critical laws in November: PA 520, the law which put wolves on the list of “game species”; and PA 21, which grants the NRC the authority to add animals to that list. These two laws both have the same deadly effect: to kill wolves.
Rejecting these measures will effectively stop the senseless hunting and trapping of wolves, and ensure that important issues about Michigan wildlife will still be influenced by the electoral voice of Michigan voters.
In the end, these wolves are not nearly the threat to humans as some of us humans are to our own humanity. Too often, as is in this case, the truth is deliberately obscured by individuals and institutions guided solely by self-interest and profit.
When that happens, animals are not the only ones who pay the price. We all do.
Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade
By joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, you will receive important alerts from us when we need your help to fight for laws against animal cruelty.